Dear readers,

You all probably already realized that this travel blog hasn't been updated for a really long time now. Nothing serious, just being busy and lazy actually. However, expect a reborn sometime in the future. Meanwhile, I just started a new personal blog and promised to update it frequently here.

See ya all!
-- Fakhrur

25 November 2008

Slovenia: Piran, A Tiny Venice Without The Canals

.. And that's probably better, for the very reason why that 'aroma' came into mind everytime you remember your last visit to Venice hahaha..

Tartini Square, view from my hotel room

OK First.. Did I mentioned that the small country has coast? Yes.. It's there, only 42km long and squeezed between Italian and Croation coastline. The four main towns in their coast are Piran, Postorož, Izola and Koper. While Postorož has paid its price for rapid tourism developments, Piran is definetely the most beautiful (maybe by keeping the size small). Meanwhile, I like Izola because it's not flooded with tourists, and Koper is more into a seaport than a tourist destination, yet Koper is a gateway for export-import for Eastern Europe countries as far away as from Poland to Romania.

42 km long Slovenia coastline from Google Earth

Now we're gonna talk more about Piran. Here's the bird-eye view of the town from this site. You might want to check their photos, which I believe much more nicer than my photos I posted here hehehe.


I went there again last weekend for the 26th annual Piran Days of Architecture and the town still felt nice and warm, thanks to really warm weather on those two days. The old town was part of the Venetian Empire for centuries, so you can see how similar it is with Venice.

Tartini Tartini Tartini..

The main plaza is called Tartinijev Trg, which translates "Tartini Plaza". Tartini was a genius violinist which has a bit of tale. He was born in Piran. You can see how the oval plaza looks on the top of the page. It was taken from the tiny hotel room I stay, the hotel called Hotel Tartini. Aha.. You see what I mean.. I would recommend the hotel, it's small, just all what you'd need, clean, super nice service, good breakfast buffe, with only somewhat expensive price.

Please check what other interesting things and what you can do on wikitravel or some other website. I'm posting some pics I took below.

this is a photo from my first visit on May


cafe on the promenade, it was part of the Theater where the architecture seminar was


the colorful facade


the Tartini Square at night


one of many small galleries that scattered in this cultural town

21 November 2008

Dubai: Palm Jumeirah Opens

I've been trying hard not to be interested to the developments in Dubai, yet I think I tried long enough. I must admit now that now I'm actually interested on it. For me, Dubai (and neighboring Abu-Dhabi) is nothing but a crazy playground of development. What they are doing there are simply utopian in a very shallow way. Very childish if I might say, very fake.

"Hey, let's make the tallest tower in the world, and make the actual height a secret, a lot earlier and taller than expected tallest skycraper in NYC, Freedom Tower. Sure.. Money is not a problem."

"Hey, let's build the tallest hotel(s)! Please don't make it (them) look normal!"

"Hey, let's buy the top athelete names to name our buildings. Pay them as much as they want!"

"Hey, let's build a snow park in the middle of desert! You got it!"

"Hey, let's make the biggest mall in the world, no matter who would occupied it. if Zara wants to build 4 stores inside, we'll let them!"

"Hey, let's make a cluster big island that can be seen from space! Oh wait, make four of them!"

OHHH PUHLEEAASE!!

And the this first cluster of the man-made island is done and just celebrated the grand opening. Let's meet all the celebrities who was coming for the event!

Fireworks in Grand Opening of Palm Jumeriah, I hope it's not fake as Olmpic opening in Beijing

I hate hate hate the fake buildings, islands (Yes I hate Pulau Sentosa, but somehow it works well with Singapore, that is also has lots of fake beaches, lakes, etc.) and everythings that so unnatural. But now I'm realizing that between hate and love sometime has only a very fine line.

I thought that I will have no interest to visit this city. Maybe if I would probably because I did involved in some projects in Abu-Dhabi for my ex-company and some design proposal and competition works in Dubai (especially one in Palm Jebel Ali). But now I'm starting to think to come if I have a chance. Well done Dubai marketing team!

Google Earth image of Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Jumeirah, The World, and Palm Deira (from left bottom to right top)

20 November 2008

Global Slowdown, So What?

A few days ago I was watching TV (Yes, I do this a bit often now since I have to share internet with my girlfriend) but stick to English speaking channels like CNN (Apparently in Slovenia 90% Kabel-TV channels are either in Slovene or German, and CNN is among the least) and there was an interesting topic on Business Travelers program, about global tourism started feeling the impact on global financial crisis. Here's the video of the first and second part.

video
Part 1 Global Overview


video
Part 2 Asian Tigers

For other parts please browse on CNN media website, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

Yes it's true, vacation is not a prime need and you'd only do it if you have spare money and time to spend. Yet, I believe that no matter what it's still a human need. It does not have to be expensive and far, but people need it time after time to escape from daily stress at work and home.

So What Can We Do to Keep Traveling?

Be smarter!
Plan the travel more carefully by finding as many information from everywhere. Internet is the best place to start, there are zillions of travel stories from various travelers on different budgets and interests. Thorn Tree Forum is one place to begin. There are other good sites too, like Virtual Tourists and STA. You can ask some travel genius about anything. List down all the plans, activities, prices and alternatives if things wouldn't go as planned. Be wise but don't be too stiff! Traveling spontaneous is often more fun than just follow the book, isn't it? While traveling, carrying some good travel guide books would save your day, your budget and even your life. I carry at least a Lonelyplanet guide with me whenever I travel.

Be budget! Find local gems!
OK, maybe we don't need to go for that romantic candle-light dinner every night. And perhaps skip the Gucci bag and those expensive day-treatment spas. The vacation can be as much fun without if you wisely spend your fortune somewhere else. Instead of the same indulgence only on different place, try to indulge yourself with local stuffs on where you're visiting.

Maybe the local young designer purse won't bring your status higher, but can look as nice as the next season Coach bag and cost 80% less! Someone would still ask where did you get the bag and you can still answer proudly, "It's from my last vacation to Argentina". Or while you're in a place like Bali, get out from hotel which offers you their spa packages and instead find a massage parlor on the corner of the street, they might be not as convinient but you only pay one third of the price for longer treatment! Please support local economy and talent! :)

Avoid franchises as much as you can! Why buy the same things that you can also find it home? Unless you're telling me that you got a really great discount, much better currency rate and tax return, leave the shopping temptation home. There are some other exceptions for me though. Like no matter how I want to stay away from foods like McDonalds, when traveling abroad I often pay a visit and try the "local variety" they offer only in that specific country. It's a habit.

Explore Your Local Sites!
It's the perfect time to go to that place that is near but you always never have the chance to go. Maybe you visited it long time ago and wonder how is it now. Maybe it would bring old memories with your partner, friend and family. Maybe it's the time to support your community economy. Or maybe it's simply to save cost on flight tickets.

Find Bargains!
Last but not least, keep an eye on travel bargains! Do check offers regularly from various airlines, hotels and tourist sites. They really understand the impact from the crisis, but they still need to keep the wheel turning, so bargains and promotions are sometime still effective to keep the tourists coming. An example from Air Asia answering both oil price drop and global slowdown.

OK these are things I can think for now, if you have any other idea, please post me. Thanks and happy traveling!

a boat on coast of lovina Bali at dawn

15 November 2008

Air Asia Omitted Fuel Surcharge

No kidding! This is a good news for you in South East Asia - Australia region who enjoys budget airlines regularly. The latest oil price drop has many benefits, especially good for times like this financial crisis. One of them is Air Asia decided to kill the fuel surcharge on its ticket (at least for now, they didn't promised to keep it this way on the future). So grab while you still can!

The math for budget flight ticket was usually like this:

ticket (nett) = ticket + fuel surcharge + services (optional) + airport tax

So no fuel surcharge this time. And yet, another good news! They're having a "free-seats" promo on travel between Jun 22th to Oct 24th 2009. Yes, that means literally you only pay for the airport tax! I did a test booking for Singapore - Kuala Lumpur on July 2009 travel and it came up like this:

Note: The 2.50 SGD is optional baggage, if you only have cabin carry you won't need this, but if you have more baggage, you'd pay more. It sucks I know, but this is normal for any budget airlines flights in the whole world.

Grab the free seating or just grab the no-fuel surcharge, happy travel everyone!

13 November 2008

Blog Experience Enhanced!

Yes, you like how it sounds.. enhanced! I just enabled easier feeds on my two blogs, Grab-One! and Travel-Book. With the help of FeedBurner, the blog updates can be redirected to your home page or any of your favorite reader. Subcribing is fool-proof and just a few clicks away. Here's a screenshot of how the feeds on iGoogle.


Not enough? Now you can subscribe via Email by filling the field on the widget on the right side of this page. So any new posts on this blog will be flooding your inbox, or your junk mail hehe (*knock on wood).


I'm sorry that I haven't been so productive the last few weeks since I've been really occupied with my moving to Slovenia. I promise a new post within a day or two (have a lot of ideas on my mind..) and then more updates regularly. Thank you my fellow readers and writers :) Ciao!